Scientific Name: Tolypeutes matacus
Status: Near Threatened
Habitat: scrublands, grasslands, and marshes of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina
Diet: These insectivores eat primarily ants and termites as well as beetle larvae.
Length: 12 inches
Weight: 3.5 pounds
Armadillos are heterothermic, which means that although they are mammals, their body temperature fluctuates with that of the immediate environment. In response to hot conditions, armadillos cool down by burrowing underground to avoid the heat and in cold weather they conserve energy by going into “torpor,” a type of light hibernation. The difference between heterotherms and ectothermic (formerly known as “cold-blooded”) animals is that heterotherms are able to increase body temperature internally instead of relying exclusively on external warmth.
The three-banded armadillo is the only armadillo that can roll completely into a ball to protect itself from predators and thorny vegetation. The sides of the carapace extend beyond the skin, giving the armadillo a space to retreat its head, legs, and tail when curling up. The armadillo can close itself so securely that it is impervious to all but a few large predators.